COVID Vaccination Rate Falls Short of July 4th Goal

In the opening days of President Joe Biden’s administration, he set a goal of having a 70% vaccination rate for eligible people before the Independence Day holiday in the United States. The country ended up falling just short of that goal, reaching 67% by July 4th.

Although the three percentage points aren’t that far off the desired number, they could have been reached or exceeded. The U.S. South has staggering low vaccination statistics, even with the Delta variant surge that happened during the summer.

Alabama had only 34% of its population fully vaccinated by the end of July. Arkansas wasn’t much better at 36%, while Louisiana had its figures at 37%.

The Delta Variant Caused a Surge of Vaccination Requests

When the Delta variant surges through the U.S. South, it became apparent that the most vulnerable people were those who hadn’t been vaccinated.

Over 90% of the registered infections came from those who hadn’t gotten a COVID shot or hadn’t completed their series. The percentage of hospitalizations was even higher.

Getting the word out about how transmissible the Delta variant is compared to the original coronavirus infections helped to push vaccination rates above 100% over the previous month. 

When all Americans are accounted for in every age group, about 50% were fully vaccinated by the end of July. 

Biden’s goal could have been reached if states like Wyoming, Idaho, Louisiana, Arkansas, Mississippi, and Alabama had hit 50% instead of being under 40%. For now, the best option we have is to wear a mask, stay socially distant, and stay healthy.

For some people, products like Neurobiologix and Quicksilver Scientific can work to potentially give their immune systems an extra boost to reach that goal. 

Child Border Separations Identify 3,900 Kids

In 2018, the Trump administration initiated a zero-tolerance policy for families illegally crossing the border. Although this policy was part of Obama’s plan for border control, it was not implemented to the extent that it was from April to June 2018.

The number of kids separated from parents or guardians during those three months was over 4,300. After taking office in 2021, the Biden administration has worked to identify over 3,900 children who were taken away.

In July 2019, another 700 children were reportedly removed from their parents or guardians, with about five kids per day having this experience occur.

Care Problems Abound for Child Separations

A group of attorneys representing clients involved with fighting the Trump Administration’s border policy visited a center in Clint, Texas, in 2019.

The children told the attorneys that their meals were usually instant oatmeal for breakfast, instant noodles for lunch, and a frozen burrito for dinner. They also reported not having a bath or a change of clothing in weeks.

There were no adult caretakers available for the separated children. The attorneys reported that girls as young as ten were taking care of infants and toddlers.

Out of the 3,900 children identified by the Biden administration, about 1,800 were reunified with a parent by July 2021. Another 1,695 kids have had their parents contacted about their current status.

Many of those who have been contacted were released to the care of other family members.

The ACLU wants the reunifications to happen faster, but the organization praises the efforts of the Biden team to get the job done. Reunited families are being allowed to remain in the country temporarily.

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$15 Per Hour Minimum Wage Now Available for Government Contractors

President Joe Biden signed an executive order on April 27, 2021, to require some federal contractors to pay workers at least $15 per hour. This EO applies to those on government contracts, and the higher minimum wage goes into effect beginning January 30, 2022.

Biden also tied the minimum wage to be adjusted each year for inflation as part of the executive order. It will be at a rate set by the Labor Secretary.

The Biden administration hopes to enhance worker productivity, reduce absenteeism, and lower training and supervisory costs by taking these steps.

Agencies are “strongly encouraged” to make the pay raise active immediately as of the order date. New government contracts now include a clause mandating that covered contractors and subcontractors take the requirement into the lower-tier documents.

What Is the Impact on Tipped Minimum Wage?

Biden’s executive order makes changes to the tipped minimum wage for some federal contractors. Starting on the January 30, 2022, date, workers who get tips must receive a base pay of $10.50 per hour.

There are also provisions for the following years (2023 and 2024) that contractors must pay tipped workers 85% and the higher minimum wage, respectively.

If a tipped workers’ hourly wages don’t reach the higher amount, the contractor must increase salaries to make up the difference.

This EO replaces the one signed by Barack Obama in 2014. That order required federal contract workers to earn $10.10 per hour, indexed to inflation. Under that structure, the current hourly wage was $10.95 in 2021.

Although the wage difference is notable, the orders from Obama and Biden appear pretty similar in how they operate. Both focus on concessions and services without applying to tribal agreements.

Biden’s EO also revoked one of Trump’s orders that provided an exemption for recreational services on federal lands.

Highlights of the Biden Executive Orders Signed in His First 30 Days

Most U.S. Presidents want to get off to a fast start when they take office. Since the election gives them the mandate to make some changes, the first 100 days are often seen as a gauge of what to expect in the coming years.

When Biden was sworn into office, he started signing executive orders within hours to begin the process of correcting what he thought was wrong with the country.

Here are the highlights of the various executive orders signed in the first month of the Biden Administration.

Biden Made an Aggressive Push on the Executive Order Front

The following table doesn’t show the proclamations, changes, or requests that don’t involve an executive order.

For example, Biden’s first action was to re-engage with the World Health Organization. That step didn’t require an executive order to complete on January 20.

Executive OrderSubject MatterDate
Create the position of a COVID-19/coronavirus response coordinator.This EO provides for streamlined vaccine distribution and virus management duties.January 20
Revoke Keystone XL pipeline.Biden paused energy leasing in ANWR while stopping the construction of the oil transportation pipeline.January 20
Launched an initiative to advance racial equity in schools.This EO effectively ended the 1776 Commission that looked at how American history got taught.January 20
OSHA guidance updates.This order looks at how to keep workers safe from COVID-19.January 21
Re-establish the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships.The goal of this EO is to address the needs of low-income Americans.February 14
Revoke city targeting when local officials declare themselves as sanctuaries.With this executive order, Biden hopes to remove “anarchist” titles from U.S. communities.February 24
Rebuild the U.S. refugee resettlement program.This order works to restore the systems used to resettle refugees when their lives are threatened in their home countries.February 4